The Intelligence Of Some Pro Athletes

Christopher JonesContributor IApril 15, 2010

PHOENIX - DECEMBER 19:  Gilbert Arenas #0 of the Washington Wizards sits on the bench during the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center on December 19, 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Wizards 121-95. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

I don’t consider myself a brainiac. I am a 22-year-old college graduate with a degree in Radio Television and Film studies. I would say I am a very bright person, but you wont see me tearing through game shows anytime soon (unless I can convince my family to go on Family Feud).  But the decisions that are being made by many professional athletes these days are just down right idiotic. The worlds most highly tuned and well-paid athletes sometimes look like immature children. Now I don’t want to generalize for all pro athletes because that is certainly not the case. Of the thousands of pro athletes there are, it is really only a handful of individuals that make these bonehead decisions that give the rest of the players a bad name. But even the decisions of these few bad apples are ridiculous to me.

            Now let it be known, everyone makes mistakes. A lapse of judgment, reacting in the heat of the moment, that’s just being human. When a player reacts to a reporters question negatively or says something stupid at the podium, that really doesn’t bother me. You stick a microphone in anyone’s face after a long athletic battle and your going to get some raw emotional answers, some of them not always what you would want to hear. Also, if someone makes a mistake and learns from it, that really doesn’t bother me too much either. People forget that a lot of these players are 20-25 years old and still have a lot of growing up to do. But unlike you and me, we don’t have TV cameras following us all the time and ESPN reporting on every mistake we make. So a DUI or fights in a club, though they are very bad, are just dumb mistakes that any young person could make. As long as they learn from it, I completely understand.

            What I think is ridiculous are the deliberate stupid decisions that are being made by players that have been in the league for years. Gilbert Arenas is an 8 year veteran of the NBA, and after all of his time in the league are you telling me that he really didn’t think it was a bad idea to leave guns in his locker? To keep them away form his kids? Gimme a break. You’re telling me there is no other place he could think of than his place of work to store these unloaded firearms? Ok ok, lets just say that was an honest lapse of judgment, then do you really think it’s a good idea to pull those guns out and “play a joke” on your teammates? You know its not a good idea to have them there in the building, so why even put yourself in a situation like that? I have a good sense of humor, and not even I can think of many funny jokes involving firearms. Ok ok, lets for just a second take both of these as simple lapses of judgment. Maybe somehow he really didn’t think that he was doing anything wrong. But after this story comes out and you know it is a very serious situation, why on earth would you essentially mock the entire investigation by coming out “guns blazing” during a home game?  You know that the commissioner is investigating, you know you are looking at a whole mess load of trouble, why bring more attention to yourself by pulling a stunt like this? That’s like ditching class, but then mooning your teacher through the window on your way off campus. It just doesn’t make any sense to me. So now Gilbert finds himself suspended indefinitely and really has absolutely nobody to blame but himself.

            What makes this type of situation different is that is wasn’t a quick lapse of judgment, this was something he did, had lots of time to think about it, but then didn’t change a thing. He knew exactly what he was doing; he wasn’t simply reacting or making a one-time mistake. And that is what I do not understand. These players know that everything they do is under a microscope, every decision of theirs can be a serious blow to their careers, so is it really worth it? Did Mike Vick love dog fighting so much that it was worth throwing away his career? Did Plaxico Burres really think he needed a loaded gun with him in a nightclub? I hope so, because both must now live with their decisions.

            In the end, I really don’t think the problem is stupidity at all. All of the players are adults who have all finished with at the very least a high school education. What it is in my opinion is this sense of invincibility that many pro athletes have. Mike Vick didn’t have a dog fighting ring in his house because he’s an idiot, he did it because he thought there was no way he could ever get in trouble for it. Sadly, he was very wrong and now has a long way to go to try and resurrect his once stellar career.

The list of people could go on for quite some time. Tank Johnson, “Pac-man” Jones, Shawn Kemp, Matt Jones, and many others also thought that they were invincible. This mindset is what is giving the league a bad name, and it is this mindset that is costing many young athletes a shot at a successful career.